Hazard pay grants now available to support frontline workers

Pa. House Democrats fought for funding to support those working through the pandemic

HARRISBURG, July 17 – Workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic could see hazard pay through funding advocated for by the Pennsylvania House Democrats.

Eligible employers can now apply for $50 million in available grants to offer hazard pay to frontline workers in life-sustaining industries. Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus has fought to support frontline workers and worked to ensure federal CARES Act dollars were allocated as part of the state budget package.

Businesses in the following industries are eligible to apply for the grant funding:

  • Health care and social assistance
  • Food manufacturing
  • Food retail facilities
  • Public transit and ground passenger transportation
  • Security services
  • Janitorial services to buildings and dwellings

More information on the grants is available here.

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, and during 2020-21 budget negotiations, House Democrats have advocated for fair compensation and protections for frontline workers.

Democratic state representatives from across Pennsylvania lauded the opening of the new grant program.

Northeast Region

Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe: "I am a strong advocate for better wages and conditions for all workers. During times of financial uncertainty, hazard pay is crucial for all frontline workers facing increased exposure to the COVID-19 virus every day.”

Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh: “This is the least we could do for these brave individuals. They risked their health and the health of their loved ones in order to perform vital jobs during a global pandemic. They not only deserve our thanks and praise, but an extra something in their paycheck for the risk they were taking for the residents of our communities and our Commonwealth.”

Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-Lackawanna: “Our frontline workers have always been the backbone of our economy, but it wasn't until the outbreak of COVID-19 that their health and safety were put at risk simply by going to work. These workers continue to carry us through this incredibly difficult time, providing us with life-sustaining goods and services. This is why I'm proud to be working on legislation with Representative Elizabeth Fiedler to provide hazard pay for frontline workers and I'm incredibly pleased that Pennsylvania has established this grant program in that same spirit." 

Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne: "The pandemic has put in plain view the women and men who make this country run, and it's not the CEO's or lobbyists or big businesses. It's our frontline essential workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, grocery stores, food services and countless other industries -- most of whom aren’t getting paid a fair wage. This $3 an hour in hazard pay is a big step in the right direction, and we must make sure these heroes are compensated appropriately, whether or not there is a pandemic."

Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh: “I am elated that Governor Wolf is allocating CARES Act funding to a hazard pay grant program. Fifty million dollars can go a long way to support our frontline workers, those who risk exposure to COVID-19 daily in order to provide us all with life-sustaining services.”

Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh: "The workers affected by this are the ones who have risked the most and been compensated the least. This is about more than money. This is a values statement: We honor the work these men and women have done on our behalf."

Philadelphia Region

Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila.: "Imagine you have a family that needs your paycheck for all of its necessities like food and housing, and you have the general public reliant on your job to get the goods and services they need for their families, and you must put your life at risk during a global pandemic to serve them both. That is a day in the life of an essential worker during the COVID-19 crisis. Providing hazard pay to these essential employees is simply the right thing to do."

Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila.: "This health crisis has intensified our need to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania and exposed the reality that too many of our frontline employees are underpaid workers. Hazard pay is crucial in helping make sure all workers are properly protected and compensated for their sacrifices during this pandemic and beyond."

Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila.: “Our friends and neighbors who work in grocery stores, pharmacies and food processing plants are risking their lives and their families to keep our homes stocked with food and life-saving medicine. I’m glad this grant program will help these essential workers get paid more. They are putting their bodies on the line and they deserve this additional compensation and much more, including health care and housing. I’m glad to be working with Representative Mullins on hazard pay legislation to reach even more workers across the city and state.”

Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila.: “If we ourselves are not, we all have family, friends and neighbors who are working every day during COVID-19, many of whom are low-wage workers, women and people of color. They are putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line for the greater good of our communities. Simply put, they deserve hazard pay for their sacrifice.”

Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Phila.: "While we can never give enough thanks to the people putting themselves in harm's way to allow us to get groceries, be cared for when we're sick or simply get to where we need to go using public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's time we offer them more than just words. Hazard pay will put more money in these essential workers' pockets so that they can take care of the families they're working to support."

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila.: “I am proud of Governor Wolf’s support in our demands to prioritize Pennsylvania frontline workers in any mitigation efforts during this crisis. It is their labor that has sustained countless communities across our Commonwealth throughout the pandemic. Providing this funding for hazard pay transcends the hollow ‘thank you’, and explicitly demonstrates our appreciation for their service by guaranteeing that they are properly compensated.”

Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Joanna McClinton, D-Delaware/Phila.: "The COVID-19 pandemic has shined yet another light on the fact that most of our frontline workers, who have proven essential during this health crisis, are severely underpaid. Ensuring they have access to hazard pay is a critical step in our fight to provide them the compensation and protection they deserve as they put their lives on the line each day to help our communities.”

Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila.: "My whole career has been dedicated to fighting for working families, and this pandemic has only underscored the importance of an ‘essential’ workforce. Hazard pay for people who are literally putting their lives at risk so that the rest of us can hold on to some semblance of normalcy in these crazy times is the least we can do for these folks."

Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila.: "The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled the curtain back and allowed us to see what we truly value in our society. This pandemic has shown everyone the importance of what I and many of my House Democratic colleagues have been advocating for a long time: we need an increased minimum wage, accessible and equitable health care, and more opportunities for disenfranchised people. I'm happy that people in essential jobs will have an opportunity for hazard pay, but we must do more to support those people all the time, not just in the midst of a global pandemic."

Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Phila.: "I have spent my 35 years as a state representative advocating for the working people. Never before in all those years have the working people faced a global pandemic the likes of COVID-19. Providing hazard pay to support the men and women who allow us to go about our business, to purchase the food we put on our family's table, to get the medical attention we need, is the least we can do when they are risking their lives for all of us."

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.: “Our frontline workers have put themselves at risk day in and day out since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve stepped up and done their duty in order for Pennsylvanians to get groceries, get to work and get the health care that they need during a dangerous time. The $50 million COVID-19 hazard pay grant program is a step in the right direction, but we need to continue to fight to expand support for essential workers who’ve kept the commonwealth going.”

Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila.: “This funding is a win for workers’ rights. When workers take selfless risks to ensure our communities aren’t lacking medical care, childcare and food in the midst of a fatal pandemic, they should be adequately compensated for the dangers they face.”

Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila.: “Frontline workers have made incredible sacrifices since the start of this pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk for exposure to this fatal virus. They must be adequately compensated for the risks they’re taking.”

Southeast Region

Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery: “As a college student, and for several years after, I worked in a grocery store, and I respect greatly the challenge put before these workers now -- to put their own health at risk to make sure our communities have access to food and other necessities. I’m glad the state is providing an opportunity for employers to seek funding to offer hazard pay to more adequately compensate these workers and other essential employees throughout the Commonwealth.”

Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks: “Pennsylvania has suffered great losses in recent months, but our workers on the front lines have been responsible for keeping supply lines open and healthcare options available when we needed them the most. This week’s announcement is a great relief, ensuring federal funds will go to our dedicated essential workers in Berks County and throughout the state who have been invaluable in helping us survive during this pandemic.”

Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery: "For more than 19 weeks, dedicated workers have shown up on the job -- in the midst of an invisible virus. They have treated sick patients, stocked shelves, driven delivery trucks, responded to emergency scenes, and much more to keep us going. Not only do they deserve our respect, but they also deserve a bigger paycheck.”

Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester: "Each day, our frontline workers have put themselves at risk in order to keep life sustaining services available to us all. These frontline workers deserve much more than just our gratitude. I am pleased that the hazard pay grants will serve to provide additional financial support for all their sacrifices."

Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery: "The governor’s hazard pay grant is a way for Pennsylvania to thank its countless workers at the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. We all owe a debt of gratitude for their selfless efforts to keep all of us safe and living as normal a life as possible.”

Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware: "Looking back at the last five months, I hate to think where my community in Delaware County -- or the state of Pennsylvania, for that matter -- would be if not for the selfless efforts of our workers on the front lines. No matter the risk, no matter the pay, they served our communities in a great time of need. Pennsylvania needed to take action to reward their loyalty, and I’m proud to have worked alongside my colleagues in the Democratic Southeast Delegation to push for securing the funds needed to offer hazard pay for frontline workers. They put in the work and they made the sacrifices -- they deserve to be compensated.”

Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks: “Our frontline workers are among the lowest paid members of our economy, yet they’ve had to take the greatest risks with their lives during this pandemic. This grant program will make sure that these workers are fairly paid.”

Rep. David Delloso, D-Delaware: “Since the start of this pandemic, I have pushed for our state to support the people who have made the greatest sacrifices -- and that’s our workers on the front lines. I’m thrilled to see our workers -- the folks who keep us safe and put their own health at risk every time they go to work -- being rewarded for keeping our cities, townships and state running.”

Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten, D-Chester: "At a time when income inequality has reached its highest level in 50 years, low- and middle-income people have disproportionately borne the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. The people who are working with our vulnerable seniors, caring for our children, grocery workers and sanitation workers have been among the most essential and the lowest paid during this time. Hazard pay is just the start of making this right for those folks who have kept us all going during these challenging times. We must continue to fight to increase the wages and protections for our essential workforce as we continue to navigate the threat of COVID-19 and beyond."

Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks: “We need to do more to give thanks to our frontline workers, and this hazard pay program will help us to do just that by paying them fairly for the incredibly risky jobs they do every day.”

Rep. Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery: "Since the pandemic began in March, my colleagues and I advocated for adequate protections for frontline workers, financial assistance to working people and families, and fair pay. Providing these workers with hazard pay is the least we can do since they’ve kept our society afloat and functioning for the past four months. It’s time we took care of Pennsylvania's healthcare workers, grocery store workers, bank tellers, sanitation workers and every single essential employee the same way they’ve been taking care of us throughout the entire public health crisis.”

Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester: "Our lives remain as normal as possible thanks to the risks our frontline workers take every day. We’ve praised them throughout this pandemic, but now we have the opportunity with this CARES Act money to actually give them the compensation they deserve." 

Rep. Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware: "Our workers on the front line put their own health at risk to ensure our community has the healthcare services, food options and transportation services we need. I’m proud to say I have been an advocate for Pennsylvania workers and the valuable services they provide. Providing the opportunity for our essential workers to earn hazard pay was an important step Pennsylvania needed to take.”

Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware: “Frontline workers throughout Pennsylvania have put their health on the line for months as they’ve worked on our behalf throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These workers are absolutely deserving of our support, and hazard pay is a small way we can help them as we continue to navigate this public health crisis.”

Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery: “Millions of Pennsylvanians have been showing up to work every day since March and it’s our job to ensure we do everything we can to protect their health and safety. I’ve stood with these frontline workers from the beginning and I’ve drafted legislation specifically tailored to protect Pennsylvania’s food production employees. My House Bill 2492 would ensure that these facilities have the necessary protections in place for their employees so they could continue operating and supplying people with food while prioritizing their health and safety. The governor’s announcement of providing employers with hazard pay grants is a great start, but it’s time we pass bills like mine that actively seek to protect workers’ health.”

Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery: “It is truly ironic that our indispensable workers in the pandemic are also are most grossly underpaid. They deserve every extra dollar we can give them.”

Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware: "In these unprecedented times, many employees found themselves called to the frontlines of a global pandemic to face a seemingly endless list of unknowns. The jobs that they did every day were not only considered essential, but they also became potentially life threatening. I introduced legislation to help them seamlessly collect worker’s compensation should they contract COVID-19 by deeming it an occupational disease for employees of life-sustaining businesses and occupations. However, there is a lot more ground that we need to cover in ensuring that Pennsylvania’s workforce is adequately protected and supported during this public health crisis. Therefore, I am immensely proud and thankful that $50 million is now available to help employers provide workers with the hazardous pay that they deserve. Supporting all those on the front lines are how we have and will continue to fight this pandemic together.”

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks: "Our workers in Berks County and throughout Pennsylvania deserve to be acknowledged for their efforts during this unprecedented and difficult time. When our community in Berks County desperately needed services, our essential workers were there for us. It’s only fitting that the workers on the front lines have the opportunity to earn hazard pay during this pandemic. They made great sacrifices, the least we can do is try to offer some form of compensation.”  

Rep. Ben Sanchez, D-Montgomery: "I applaud this important recognition of our frontline workers and will continue to fight for fair compensation and safety in the workplace for all Pennsylvanians.”

Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery: “Pennsylvania’s frontline workers took care of us and kept our communities afloat since mid-March. We are long overdue to show them that we care about, support and thank them for continuously showing up to work every day during a global pandemic. I’ve advocated to provide these workers with hazard pay, as well as adequate PPE, testing capabilities and strict workplace safety measures, so while this $50 million grant program is a major step in the right direction, our fight isn’t over yet. Until COVID-19 is no longer a serious threat to public health, I’ll continue to fight for all of these measures to preserve the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s workforce.”

Rep. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks: “Frontline workers’ life-sustaining work has ensured that we have food to eat and that our children, our sick and our elderly are cared for. This grant program will help us to assist employers in compensating these heroes for the risks they’ve taken for our sakes.”

Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks: “These CARES Act funds will help support lower paid frontline workers and will help ensure that all Pennsylvanians will continue to receive life-sustaining goods and services.”

Rep. Joe Webster, D-Montgomery: “Above-and-beyond effort deserves above-and-beyond recognition -- and above-and-beyond compensation.”

Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester: “Every day, our frontline workers -- who are among the lowest-paid members of our society -- put their lives on the line for us, at great risk to themselves and their families. Thanks to the hazard pay program, we can help balance the scales of economic justice so they will receive fair compensation for the dangers they face during this pandemic.”

Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware: “During the last five months, Pennsylvania workers have stepped up to fight this pandemic. From our healthcare professionals to the men and women responsible for keeping supply chains up and running, workers throughout the state have made the sacrifices necessary to put our state in a better position. It’s rewarding to see these men and women now have an opportunity to receive compensation for their commitment and willingness to work on the front lines.”

West Region

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie: “Now is the time for employers to apply for this grant to ensure Pennsylvania’s frontline workers get a much-needed boost in pay for the work they’re doing in the fight against COVID-19. The hazard pay grant will help our frontline workers earn the wage they deserve for putting their health and safety on the line. Without their risk, we wouldn’t have shelves stocked with food and life-sustaining supplies. We wouldn’t have qualified caregivers for children in need of care while their parents are working. And, we wouldn’t have clean medical facilities. Many of these positions are paid just barely above the minimum wage and this grant will ensure that our frontline workers make a living wage as they help us make it through this pandemic.”

Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny: “Now more than ever, we need to make sure the heroes who, in the face of a global pandemic, answered the call to work on the front lines get the hazard pay they so rightly deserve. This is a small way for the Commonwealth to show our appreciation to our essential businesses and workers. We need to do more than just praise them; we need to pay them.”

Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny: “I strongly encourage all eligible businesses to apply for this funding to provide hazard pay to their employees on the front lines who have never stopped working to keep this Commonwealth and our citizens alive during this pandemic. These critical employees continue to make a selfless sacrifice and deserve to be financially rewarded for their heroism.”

Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland: “House Democrats have been calling for real support for the workers doing necessary but risky jobs from the beginning of the pandemic. These hazard pay grants will help employers retain frontline workers and provide them with the financial support they need to make sure critical goods and services are not disrupted for all of us.”

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny: “As our Commonwealth has responded to the challenges of the coronavirus, it has underlined many of the inequities of our system, not just in our economy, but also in our healthcare systems. This funding for essential worker payments marks a victory for working families across our state, one which we have advocated for since the start of this crisis, and I look forward to working with my fellow members of the legislature to continue to address the challenges we face.”

Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny: “Since the start of this deadly crisis, our frontline workers, many of whom only receive minimum wage, have stepped up to answer the call and to keep Pennsylvania moving. These folks have sacrificed their well-being and that of their families to keep the rest of us fed, clothed and safe. They are deserving of hazard pay and we must continue to work to ensure they continue to receive it.”

Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie: “The pandemic has introduced new levels of risk throughout the entire employment sector, turning formerly low-risk jobs such as grocery store cashiers and delivery drivers into high-risk endeavors and adding new risks to already-dangerous jobs. The hazard pay program will allow employers to compensate workers who perform these essential services and recognize them for the courage and dedication they display for remaining on the front lines in the face of additional stress, danger and hardship.”

Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny: “Every day our essential workers are asked to put themselves in harm’s way, often with no recognition of their efforts to keep our state moving. Since the start of this crisis, we have worked to ensure they have the protections, equipment and resources they need to stay safe, and this funding for them is a victory for every working Pennsylvanian, one that I hope we can make permanent in the months ahead.”

Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny: “If there is one thing this crisis has shown, it is just how essential so many of our neighbors -- who are often forgotten by those in power – are. While all workers are essential, these individuals have stepped up time and again for all of us, and these grants are a well-deserved -- yet small -- redress for decades of hard work with little recognition. It is my hope that as we emerge from this crisis, we can all work together to ensure this emergency pay increase becomes permanent.”

Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer: “The decision to take on a high-risk job is usually made voluntarily, with at least some awareness of the possible dangers and consequences. All that changed with COVID-19, as workers were suddenly exposed to unforeseen risks that could jeopardize themselves and their families. The new hazard pay grant program is an important way to compensate the many workers now facing those risks. I’m encouraging eligible businesses in our area to apply as soon as possible.”

Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny: “While more needs to be done for employees and employers, any assistance made available for workers who at no fault of their own are suffering financially is good public policy.”

Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie: “Because of COVID-19, many workers are now facing dangers they never bargained for. If we are asking our essential frontline workers to face new and unanticipated health risks as part of their everyday work, we need to be compensating them for it. Applying for grants under the hazard pay program is an important way employers can accomplish this and encourage these workers to continue their life-sustaining work for the community.”

Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny: “COVID-19 has forced all of us to recognize the truth that some have long said: many of our most critical and life-sustaining jobs are not supported and appreciated enough, and most certainly not paid enough. Where would we have been, especially in the early days of our pandemic response, but for our food workers? Where would our loved ones with disabilities, or mental health issues, or people with childcare or transit needs, have been but for the risks assumed by the workers -- many for little pay, some for no benefits. This hazard pay program moves us in the right direction, but we must commit ourselves to supporting all industries with a qualified and stable workforce that is appropriately compensated for their work.”

Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana: “Many workers in life-sustaining industries are on our businesses’ front lines during this pandemic. These hazard pay grants will help employers recognize their efforts.”

Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny: “Since Day One of this crisis, we have fought to ensure that essential workers are recognized for their hard work and dedication to their communities by pushing for safety protocols, worker protections and other measures. While this is not over -- and we still have more work to do, especially for our essential workers -- our ability to secure this funding for working families is a meaningful success, and some good news in these turbulent days.”

Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence: “With the advent of COVID-19, ‘working on the front lines’ has taken on a whole new meaning, and many workers in previously low-risk jobs are now facing life-threatening dangers while performing everyday duties. The new hazard pay program will help ensure that these courageous workers who meet our community’s essential needs are compensated for the additional risks they are forced to assume.”